Press Release

SIPTU call for unions to adapt to new ways of working adopted by ICTU Biennial Conference

Date Released: 27 October 2021

The ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference in Belfast has endorsed a motion calling for a major reappraisal of the policy and operation of the trade union movement so it can better represent its members in workplaces redefined by technological change and the climate crisis.

Proposing the motion, SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, John King, said: “Our society has entered a new stage of development, what we call the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The impact of this evolution will be seismic in how it defines the future of work, and the cohesion of our communities and societies. It will also present enormous challenges for the mass of working people and future generations, and create opportunities for some.”

King outlined both the challenges and opportunities presented to the trade union movement from technological development and the necessary global response to climate change.

He said: “The threat of severe climate change and the need for a Just Transition to protect and create new employment opportunities provide a possible pathway to a more sustainable economy and an equal society.

“The changing demographics in our society, as we live longer and healthier lives, present us with the challenge to build better public services, particularly in the provision of healthcare. The uncertain future is compounded by the economic and social challenges emerging in the post-pandemic world and in the aftermath of Brexit.

“However, we must not be afraid of these changes. Rather, our movement must help shape this new era of industrial activity and its impact on workers and our wider society. We must strengthen Workplace Democracy, eliminate low pay, utilise new technologies to ensure greater quality employment, and support the re-appraisal of work and life balance.”

He added: “We must learn to organise new types of workplaces which will be based on remote and blended working and embrace change that can allow our members to play fuller parts in the lives of their families and communities.”

The ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference concludes today (Wednesday, 27th October) at the ICC Waterfront in Belfast.


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